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Thursday , 16 May 2024

National Highways: The Transformative Role of Wayside Amenities

Local economy

Gen. (Dr) Vijay Kumar Singh, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways had stated, “All upcoming wayside amenities would include “Village Haat / Bazaar” which will offer area-specific handicrafts and handlooms by local artisans besides local food and fruits. The development of these sites will bring economic development to the villages along the highways.” This initiative would also go a long way in providing employment to local youth, especially farmers in all corners of our country. All the amenities will have stalls where farmers can sell their local produce.

Most of the states and implementing agencies for highways / expressways are getting WSAs approved. The plan for Mumbai – Delhi Expressway includes, apart from blocks for visitors, truckers and office purposes, facilities for the persons with disabilities will also be provided in accordance with ‘Sugama Bharat Abhiyan’ of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

In continuance with the NHAI WSA programme, the Tamil Nadu State Highways (SH) Department will set up wayside amenities aimed at ensuring the comfort of motorists at three points alongside the roads managed by it as announced by the Government. The PPP model would have facilities such as restaurants, ATMs, a play area for children, parking space for buses and heavy and light motor vehicles and fuel stations. “The lands required have been identified and are owned by the department.

Land pooling model

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) proposes to implement a land pooling scheme for the construction of wayside amenities along the highways it is executing. Under this model, citizens will need to give up 50 per cent of their land and, in return, receive a similar share of developed land to establish wayside amenities. It is currently being considered for several projects, including the 172-km Pune ring road, the 720-km Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg, the 128-km Vasai-Alibaug Expressway, and the 178-km Jalna-Nanded Expressway.

The process will begin with 16 spots along the Samruddhi corridor and then be rolled out in all other projects. “We have identified spots along the highway near Aurangabad and Igatpuri along the Samruddhi corridor. There would be around eight spots along the Nagpur corridor side and the Mumbai corridor,” he said. The minimum investment required for constructing wayside amenities at each location is expected to be around Rs 50 crore and the agencies responsible for the construction will have to complete the work within a two-year timeframe. Given that the landholders in the area are primarily farmers, MSRDC is exploring the possibility of forming a joint venture with a partner who has significant capital to initiate the wayside amenities project.

The absolute outline behind the initiative of providing WSAs is to not only provide a modern outlook towards the experience of travel but also to boost Tourism, Construction and Trade sectors which in turn will generate employment especially for the youth and ultimately go a long way in shaping “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, the dream of our Hon’ble Prime Minister

ORR Telangana

The Hyderabad Growth Corridor Limited (HGCL) is planning to develop wayside amenities and multi-fuel stations at interchanges of the expressway along Outer Ring Road (ORR). As part of the project, HGCL developed 19 interchanges and intends to develop various wayside amenities which will be equipped with washrooms, food courts, local handicrafts outlets, grocery, medical shops, truck and passenger vehicles parking lots, vehicle service centres, intercity bus terminals and office buildings among others. They will be developed in a phased manner. HGCL is also planning to set up multi-fuel stations, including petrol, diesel, CNG, and battery charging points at the interchanges. To this effect, HGCL is roping in private agencies under the public private partnership mode. The wayside amenities are being planned in locations spread over 10 to 20 acres of space.

Innovative use of space

One does not need all that much space, really, to offer simple convenience. On the Guntur-Chennai Highway, above the Tangutur Toll Plaza (TIS), in AP, is the N5 Food Plaza. One could park on the side of the highway, take a lift up the gantry to the restaurant which had lovely, long glass windows overlooking the traffic below. It serves wonderful buffets and has very clean washrooms.

Impact on tourism

Governments have long recognised the positive impact on tourism by well-connected roads. The state government of Karnataka had released a feasibility report over a decade ago on the impact on tourism by PPP and WSA. They identified six road stretches in consultation with the department of tourism with details of tourist footfalls at the destinations which were connected through these stretches. Belgaum-Bijapur, Hospet-Badami, Badami-Bijapur, Mysore-Madikeri, Chikmagalur-Sringeri and Kalasa-Sringeri were suggested and depending on the length of each stretch, the number of wayside amenities were calculated. Project financials indicated that each of the WSAs would generate a net profit for the government. The state government is in the process of implementing the report.

Improved road safety

Highway Hypnosis is a phenomenon that generally motorists experience during long, uninterrupted drives on highways. It occurs when motorists are continuously driving for hours without any breaks and the monotonous route. The feeling is like sleeping with eyes open and a brief disconnect with the outer world. Highway hypnosis has emerged as a major cause of road accidents. Driver fatigue, burst tyres and mechanical breakdowns are other known causes. Such accidents can be averted or reduced with the introduction of wayside amenities that will ensure adequate rest and refreshment for motorists and truck drivers on long hauls.

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